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Sewer Definitions

Wastewater (AKA Sewer)

Basically used water. All of the water that goes down the drains after washing dishes, laundry, bathing, flushing the toilet, etc.


Equivalent Residential Unit, how we measure usage, like a kilowatt with power and BTU with gas

Main sewer line

AKA transmission line that transports wastewater from properties to wastewater treatment plants


A sewer lateral, also known as a service line, is the underground pipe that connects a residence or business to a main sewer line, and it is typically owned by the property owner. It will either be a gravity lateral if there is a gravity main sewer system on the main road or a pressurized lateral if there is a pressurized sewer system there.

Right of way (property)

The legal right of passage over another person’s ground

a: the area over which a right-of-way exists

b: the strip of land over which is built a public road

c: the land occupied by a railroad especially for its main line

d: the land used by a public utility (as for a transmission line)


The connection between a lateral and the main sewer line.




A small covered opening in a floor, pavement, or other surfaces to allow a person to enter, especially an opening in a city street leading to a sewer.









The sewer clean out is a pipe with a cap that provides access to the sewer line so that blockages can be removed.

The sewer clean out is usually located somewhere along the lateral sewer line. If you have a clog in the lateral sewer line or your sewer clean out needs to be emptied, the responsibility and cost for doing so is up to the property owner.



Wastewater treatment plant

A facility including pumps and equipment for pumping fluids from one place to another and the removal of sewage to wastewater treatment plants. BCSS currently owns and maintains 146 lift stations throughout Baldwin County.

A facility in which physical, chemical, and biological processes are used to remove pollutants from wastewater before discharging it into a water body or groundwater.

Wastewater treatment

The process of cleaning or disinfecting the sewage received at a wastewater treatment plant to the point where it meets guidelines to return it to the environment through groundwater or a waterway. Wastewater is usually treated by an ultraviolet system or chlorine

Grinder pump

With wastewater utilities throughout the county there are gravity sewer systems and pressure sewer systems. Some areas aren’t suitable for gravity sewer systems, so a low-pressure sewer system is implemented. The choice is usually made when roads and subdivisions are developed, and then the utilities provide service and typically maintain the main sewer system infrastructures. When low-pressure sewer systems are installed, each home or building that is connected within that service territory requires a grinder pump and pressure pushing wastewater to the main line, even if the land from home/building to main road slopes downward.

Lift station

A larger grinder pump station that pumps wastewater along transmission lines or pushes wastewater from a large building or development to a transmission line

Tap Fee

The tap fee includes the cost of reserving capacity at the wastewater treatment plant based on the predicted amount of wastewater volume that will be used in terms of ERUs. This fee helps to cover to costs associated with maintaining and upgrading wastewater treatment plants.

Impact Fee

The cost to cover the impact that the applicant’s proposed project will impact the collection and transmission system. Impact fees contribute to capital expenses to upgrade and add on to the sewer system, including pipes and lift station, due to growth on the system.
The more growth that occurs and adds to the current sewer system infrastructure, the more improvements must be invested in the system.

Treatment Fee

The cost of transporting all of the wastewater to the nearest wastewater treatment plant, treating it to meet strict Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) standards, and returning the cleaned water to the environment. The treatment fees are used to cover the expense to operate and maintain the sewer system.

Check out the ACF Sewer 101 Prezi



Schedule New Installations & Start-ups

Request that BCSS install grinder pumps and start-up pumps at new construction homes in subdivisions.

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